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Should the United States pursue a deeper alliance with Turkey to fight ISIS?

The Issue

Should the United States pursue a deeper alliance with Turkey to stop ISIS? If you were asked this question two or three years ago, would you have said yes? It seemed most was calm in Turkey with the Islamic State bombings and taking over cities across Syria and Iraq. That was until recently when just this week alone, 32 people were killed along with two soldiers caused by a car bomb.

The capital of Turkey, Ankara has asked NATO to utilize their air base to launch air strikes against the Islamic State. That being said, this is the fifth NATO session of this kind since 1949. United States officials have said the goal of these air strikes is to create an “Islamic State – free zone”. The attacks against ISIS are to push fighter out of Turkey’s boundaries (Jones).

Turkey is a moderate Muslim country and NATO member. The United States did not have the intention to get involved regarding the fight against the Islamic State, despite threats of terror attacks.


When ISIS emerged in 2011, Turkey did not plan a direct fight. They did however open up their grounds to Syrian refugees and air space. With the recent image that had been painted of Turkey, they have allowed the United States and its allies to launch airstrikes on its territory along with training Syrian rebels. Before, Turkey did not realize just how ruthless the situation in Syria was, despite both countries sharing a 900-km boarder (Montgomery).

President Obama has stated that the United States has yet to perceive plotting against the nation, thus far as of September 2014. ISIS continues to threat America along with their allies. Turkey, compared to the United States, is a weaker ally and with ISIS groups in its cities, their plea for assistance needs to be more than just boarder patrol. “From a logistics perspective, Turkey can’t pursue a buffer zone alone” said Didem Akyel Collinsworth. The Kurdistan Workers’ Party, also known as the PKK, is a Kurdish militant organization.

The PKK creates an added stressor to Turkey. Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has promised attacks with the PKK and Turkish militants have launched airstrikes on Kurdish bases in northern Iraq. According to Anadolu Agency, at least 260 rebels have been killed in airstrikes with the United States help.

Alternative 1

One alternative is building a better effective alliance with NATO. With Turkey’s NATO membership coming into question for some, seeing them as waiting on the sidelines. An alliance is defined as a coalition of states that coordinate their actions to accomplish some end, according to Goldstein, “They are not marriages of love, but marriages of convenience” (63). More assistance with Turkey could keep the Islamic State from taking over more territory, especially in Turkey. An advantage of this alternative is of course, preventing further spread of the Islamic State and possibly pushing back fighters from further destruction of Turkey territory. A disadvantage is the possibility of the U.S. getting too involved in a war that is not theirs.

Alternative 2

The second alternative is instead of the United States getting involved in the fight against ISIS, is allowing Turkey to fight their dilemmas. An advantage with this alternative is the United States not getting involved. With the invasion of Iraq in 2003, Americans are hesitant to send their own boots on the ground. The disadvantage of this would be, being a member of NATO, it is the United States responsibility to lead. That is the point of an alliance. “Our endless blessings bestow an enduring burden. But as Americans, we welcome our responsibility to lead” said President Obama.

Alternative 3

The last alternative would be providing humanitarian assistance to civilians displaced by ISIS. If there is a positive to take away from this ruin, it is the United States can instill in fellow alliances, is helping those who did not choose this war. The advantage of this would be “allies are flying planes with us over Iraq; sending arms and assistance to Iraqi security forces and the Syrian opposition; sharing intelligence; and providing billions of dollars in humanitarian aid,” said President Obama. The disadvantage is ISIS continuing to taunt innocent civilians and moving across the nations.


From my point of view, I believe as a nation, we have a responsibility to step up with our recourses and lend a helping hand to those not privileged enough to have the recourses to keep their country safe. It unlike our nation to not assist those in need, whether it is sending aid to an Ebola outbreak to sacrificing American troops to stop an outbreak of utter war destruction. I know if I were in the position of not having access to that aid and knowing there is help out there, I could not imagine the fear knowing this is the best we can do with what little we have. “The ongoing conflict in Syria and Iraq is further destabilizing the Levant and the Middle East where under-governed spaces in the Sahel and the Maghreb continue to present a complex array of security and humanitarian challenges,” said Gen. Philip Breedlove.


Associated Press. 2 soldiers dead, 24 wounded in suicide attack in Turkey. August 2, 2015. Web.

Goldstein S, Joshua and Pevehouse C, Jon. International Relations. Tenth Addition. 2014. Pages (63).

Hudson, David. President Obama: “We will Degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL”. ultimately-destroy-isil. September 2014. August 7, 2015. Web.

Jones, Dorian. NATO, Turkey in ‘Solidarity’ on IS, PKK Strikes. August 2, 2015. Web.

Montgomery, Katarina. “The Implications of Turkey’s Turn toward Fighting ISIS”. isis/. Oct. 2014. August 7, 2015. Web.

Breedlove, Philip. “News Transcript”. U.S. Department of Defense. November 2014. August 7, 2015. Web.

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